Captivated by Indonesia
Each week we will profile one of our employee's adventures across the globe, featuring a new location for every employee's story. Follow along every week to learn more about their travel experiences.
By SFO Base Technician James Hoang
For most of us, there are always wonderful reasons to go on an adventure. For me, it's appreciating the ancient temples, hiking the vast trails in a lush green forest, experiencing the sight of the unpredictable volcanoes, walking along the beautiful sandy beaches and gazing at the crystal clear-blue ocean. But most of all, my greatest adventure was spending time with my good friend Rista, who is a native of Jakarta, Indonesia.
My Indonesia journey began in mid-February of this year. Traveling to Jakarta took me almost 20 hours of flight time. I flew from San Francisco International Airport to Singapore International Airport. The first city I visited was Yogyakarta. Even though I was exhausted from traveling, I was too overjoyed upon arriving in this amazing place to sleep. Yogyakarta is an extremely peaceful and serene town, far from the hustle and bustle of city life that Jakarta possesses, and it is not as crowded and as touristy as the world-famous Bali, either.
Yogyakarta, or Jogya for short, is one of the oldest cities in Indonesia with many historical buildings and monuments. There are two very famous and must-see ancient temples, Borobudur and Prambanan, which have made the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. I was excited to visit the Prambanan Temple, especially with the help of my friend/tour guide Daniel, who showed me around. The Prambanan temple is as magnificent as I could have ever imagined. I was captivated by its beauty. It is the largest Hindu temple site in Indonesia and one of the biggest in Southeast Asia. It is best described by its tall and pointed typical Hindu architecture, standing at 47 meters high (154 feet). Prambanan attracts many visitors from around the world. Exploring the temple left me in complete awe and wanting to see more. I had forgotten all about the heat of the sun because Prambanan had taken my breath away.
My first dinner was at a local Indonesian restaurant. I enjoyed sitting at the Indonesian-inspired table— short-legged table and comfortable cushioned seats where I had wonderful conversations with my friends throughout our meal. I had so much fun and experienced mouth-watering dishes I'd never tasted. The desserts and durians were heavenly.
My next destination was Borobodur, where I stayed at a cozy hotel. The Borobudur Temple is known for its magical sunrise. One should make sure to witness its beauty. For the next couple of days, I had the great privilege of exploring an old, sleepy village nearby and experiencing their way of life. The village has been around for hundreds of years and, to this day, the people of that small village still maintain their traditions. For example, the town is known for making batik, an Indonesian fabric with unique designs that are drawn by hand. It takes several weeks to create intricate designs, which are then dipped into colorful dyes made from leaves, roots, tree barks or seeds from various local trees. I have so much respect and admiration for these artists, who have preserved their ancient art traditions. I also had a chance to visit the rice paddies. I was able to learn how rice was harvested in the old-fashioned way, as well as how the rice was cleaned and processed by the hands of the hardworking, yet so cheerful, women.
After a long goodbye to the new friends I made, it was off to Lombok, an old fishing town. It has beautiful beaches where you can walk all day long or sit and admire the sunset. Colorful painted fishing boats surround the area. You can take these boats to the Gili Islands, an archipelago of three small islands. There are also other ways to go sightseeing around town -- you can ride on a horse-drawn wagon, ride a bicycle or get around by foot.
Hiking in the lush, green jungle was one of the best experiences. I was amused by the monkeys that accompanied me along the trails and, at the same time, waited for treats. I was able to go behind the powerful waterfalls, which is one experience most of us don't get the chance to do.
Indonesia was such a great travel experience for me and I will carry the memories with me forever. I have made great friends with the native Muslims there, who are lovely and kind-hearted people, making Indonesia a country worth visiting again and again. I also want to thank my friend Rista, who showed me around the country and gave me the opportunity to experience the peaceful and loving Indonesians.
Adventures are the best way to learn. They leave you speechless, and then turn you into a storyteller. I encourage my fellow travelers to explore this place whenever they get the chance.
"Travel changes you. As you move through this life…you leave marks behind, however small and in return, life and travel leaves marks on you." -- (Anthony Bourdain).
And as Mark Twain would put it: Explore. Dream. Discover.
On March 19, 2020, United operated its first flight carrying cargo without passengers on board. While the passenger cabin was empty, its cargo hold was completely full, carrying more than 29,000 pounds of commodities from Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD) to Frankfurt Airport (FRA).
A year later, United Cargo has operated more than 11,000 cargo-only flights carrying more than 570 million pounds of freight. To support the COVID-19 pandemic recovery efforts, United Cargo has also transported more than 113 million pounds of medical and pharmaceutical products on both cargo-only and passenger flights as well as approximately 10 million COVID-19 vaccines, providing global communities access to the items they have needed most.
"At the beginning of the pandemic, we knew we were uniquely positioned to utilize our widebody aircraft and our network to keep commodities moving, so we quickly mobilized various departments throughout the airline to launch a cargo-only network of flights that would keep commodities moving," said United Cargo President Jan Krems. "Thanks to those efforts, United Cargo has delivered millions of items to countries all around the world. We would not have been successful without the steadfast support of our employees, industry partners and our customers."
Since last March, United Cargo has transported almost 850 million pounds of freight on cargo-only and passenger flights. The airline will continue to monitor market trends adjust its cargo-only flight schedules to help ensure we are meeting our customer's evolving shipping needs.
Whether you haven't flown with us for a while or just need a quick refresher before your spring trip, read this list of tips to know before your flight and arrive at the airport travel-ready:
1. Download the United app for contactless bag check, travel assistance and more
Before your flight, download the United app to view your flight status, check in, sign up for flight notifications, locate departure gates, access our free personal device entertainment when available and more. We've also updated our app with new features that can make your trip a little safer, including contactless bag check.
Don't forget to use Agent on Demand for help with any and all questions you may have before your flight. This new capability is available at all our U.S. hub airports and allows you to use your own mobile device to contact a customer service agent via phone, video or chat to help with day-of-travel questions while you're at the airport. Learn more about Agent on Demand here.
2. Check out the Travel-Ready Center
Our Travel-Ready Center makes it easy to get a personalized overview of everything you need to do in preparation for your flight. Just enter your confirmation number or MileagePlus® number and you'll find detailed information on all the documents, tests and more that you'll need for your trip.
3. Read and sign the Ready-to-Fly checklist
Before completing check-in, all United travelers will need to read our Ready-to-Fly checklist and confirm that they understand and agree to our policies. These include:
Acknowledging that you haven't had any symptoms of COVID-19 in the last 14 days
Agreeing that you will not fly if you have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 21 days
Confirming that you will follow all policies regarding face masks, social distancing and other health and safety measures we've adopted
4. Arrive early; avoid the stress
Airports can be busy, especially during peak travel periods like spring break season. The TSA advises arriving at the airport two hours before your flight for domestic travel and three hours for international travel in anticipation of long security lines. This can help ease the stress when navigating busy check-in areas, security lines and crowded boarding gates.
5. Get familiar with CleanPlus
United CleanPlus℠ is our commitment to delivering industry-leading cleanliness as we put health and safety at the forefront of your experience. We've teamed up with Clorox to redefine our cleaning and disinfection procedures and Cleveland Clinic to advise us on enhancing our cleaning and disinfection protocols, like:
Disinfecting high-touch areas on board and in the terminal
Using electrostatic spraying, Ultraviolet C lighting wands and more advanced measures to clean aircraft cabins before boarding
Redesigning our mobile app to allow for touchless check-in and contactless payment, along with enhanced travel assistance features
Implementing high-efficiency (HEPA) filters on our aircraft that completely recirculate cabin air every 2-3 minutes and remove 99.97% of airborne particles, including viruses and bacteria
Studies show COVID-19 exposure risk is minimal when air filtration systems and masks are in use, so you can rest assured that the steps we've taken to keep you safe truly make a difference.
6. Wear your mask
Federal law requires all travelers to wear a face mask in the airport, including customer service counters, airport lounges, gates and baggage claim, and on board during their entire flight. Make sure you review the requirements for face masks, including what an acceptable face mask looks like.
7. Get ready for a safer boarding process
To make boarding even safer, we now have travelers board their aircraft from back to front. At the gate, just listen for your row number to be called – we'll ask a few rows at a time to board, starting with the last row of the plane. This helps everyone maintain a safe distance from each other during boarding without slowing things down. As you step onto the plane, flight attendants will hand each passenger a sanitizing towelette, which you can use to wipe down your seat to ensure it's extra clean.
8. Pack smart
Before packing your bags, check to see what exactly you can carry on and what you should plan to check. You can also copy your confirmation number into our Baggage Calculator tool to learn about the bag allowance included with your reservation, as well as the cost of checking any additional bags.
9. Check your flight status, important notices and weather
Check the United app regularly for the latest updates on weather conditions, flight status, gate numbers and seat assignments. You can also visit our Important Notices page to find essential information and updates about travel waivers, international travel, TSA and security, airports and United Club locations.
10. Relax and enjoy your flight
Once you're on board, it's time to sit back and enjoy your flight. Our flight attendants will be happy to help you with anything else you need.
This week, we were honored to become the first U.S. airline to join the UNICEF Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative to combat the COVID-19 pandemic by transporting the vaccine and other critically needed supplies to underserved areas of the globe.
"We are committed to helping the global community in any way we can, and we all must work together to do our part to bring this health and humanitarian crisis to an end," said Director of Cargo Specialty Products Manu Jacobs.
We will leverage our expertise to transport these critical pharmaceutical and healthcare shipments around the world safely, efficiently and expediently. We are proud to partner with the United Nations to support this global effort and provide equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
Together, we are facing an unprecedented challenge. United Together, we rise to meet that challenge.
Calling all AvGeeks and travelers! Take your next video call from a United Polaris® seat, the cockpit or cruising altitude with United-themed backgrounds for use on Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
Newly added to our collection is a background encouraging our employees and customers to vote. Our mission is to connect people and unite the world — and one of the most important ways to do that is to engage in the democratic process. No matter which party you support, we know our democracy will be stronger if you make your voice heard and vote.
So for your next meeting or catch up with friends and family, download the app to either your computer or mobile device to get started.
To use on Zoom:
- Start here by downloading your favorite United image to your computer or mobile device. Just click "download" in the bottom left corner of the image.
- Next go to your Zoom app (you'll need to download the app to access backgrounds) and click on the arrow to the right of your video camera icon in the bottom of the screen.
- From here select, "choose virtual background" to upload your uniquely United photo.
To use on Microsoft Teams:
- Start by downloading your favorite United image to your computer. Just click "download" in the bottom left corner of the image.
- If you're using a PC, copy the image you want to use into this folder:
- C:\[insert your device user name here]\AppData\Microsoft\Teams\Backgrounds\Uploads
- If you're using a Mac copy the images to this folder on your computer:
- /users/<username>/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Teams/Backgrounds/Uploads
- If you're using a PC, copy the image you want to use into this folder:
- Once you start a Teams meeting, click the "…" in the menu bar and select "Show background effects" and your image should be there
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This is the story of Jason and Shantel. You see, Jason and Shantel love each other very much. They also love traveling and they love the classic Adam Sandler film, The Wedding Singer.
It all began when Jason reached out to United's social media team, hoping for assistance with his upcoming plan to propose. Some phone calls and one borrowed guitar later, the stage was set for Jason. Put all that together, mix in some helpful United employees and, voila, you have a truly memorable marriage proposal. Congratulations to this fun-loving and happy couple, and here's to many more years of making beautiful music together.
A big thank you to Chicago-based flight attendants Donna W., Marie M., Karen J. and Mark K. for making this proposal come to life.